3 7 Gauthorpe St Rhodes, NSW 2138
|Opening hours||Mon-Fri 7am–4pm ; Sat-Sun 8am–4pm|
|Features||Licensed, Outdoor seating, Breakfast-brunch, Vegetarian friendly, Accepts bookings, Views, Wheelchair access, Gluten-free options, Family friendly|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Payments||eftpos, Cash, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||02 9752 7729|
It is easy to assume the iPhone-wielding hordes patrolling through Rhodes on a Sunday morning are there to catch Pokemon. But while the gaming app, for a while, transformed the Sydney suburb into a Mecca of sorts for Pokemon lovers, they may well be here for another reason.
Left of Field, and its Instagram-friendly dishes, has been drawing a crowd since it opened in February. A half-hour queue has already assembled at the doors by the time we arrive for brunch.
The alfresco area radiates warmth due an array of outdoor heaters, so we settle into a table with a glimpse of the nearby Parramatta River.
Left of Field is a fitting name for this hipster hub in incongruous surrounds – the rather bleak concrete forest of looming apartment complexes.
Matthew Abi-Arrage, who co-owns and runs the cafe with his cousin Clovice Khachan, says the location is perfect for their mission "to bring a fresh creative take on daytime dining in the suburbs where a lot of people live, but don't have access to that quality or experience."
After 15 years working in the hospitality management game, Abi-Arrage decided to embark on his own venture when he returned home to Sydney last year from Melbourne.
Inside, the fit-out is clean and crisp, with natural light spilling in through glass panelling. White and pastel walls adorned with living ferns stretch into a high ceiling.
The baristas' work station is smack bang in the middle of the cafe, exposing them to 360 degrees of observation by diners, but their scrutiny is firmly trained on the dishes, which have been on high rotation in Instagram foodie circles.
The menu is devised by head chef Ash Paterfield, whose resume includes stints working with Guillaume Brahimi, as well as Marco Pierre White's Wheeler's of St James in London. His interesting line-up of dishes have touches of finer-dining and a strong seasonal element.
The hotcakes with caramelised banana come drizzled with earl grey-infused custard, adorned with maple popcorn and fresh berries. The serving is enormous.
Slicing into the stack of three fat, steaming hotcakes delivers delicious hits of gooey banana between the layers. The custard keeps the fluffy cakes moist, adding sweetness without overdoing the sugar hit.
After some initial restraint, we greedily douse the remaining cakes in the leftover custard which comes in a beaker on the side. The popcorn adds a delightful crunch to the soft dish.
By this time, plates of smoky beans and honey-glazed pork belly have arrived, jostling for room on our table. The rich, succulent pork belly comes with creamy sweet potato puree and salty crackling on top, which proves too challenging for our knives, so we take to it with our hands. A small garden of snap peas, grilled onions and radish is a welcome pop of greenery and freshness.
The beans, in a smoky tomato sauce, are topped with a perfectly oozy poached egg and sourdough toast. Slivers of apple, fennel and radish add welcome crunch, but a kick of spicy heat could help draw out the sauce's smoky flavours. Another big serve, this dish works best as a share plate.
Our coffees, a Single Origin Roasters blend, are perfectly poured and hit the spot. Beer, wine and cider is also served for those seeking a champagne breakfast or an afternoon tipple.
It's well after lunchtime by the time we pay the bill, leaving our table to be snapped up by those still patiently queuing out the door.
Go-to Dish: hotcakes with caramelised banana.